Private sector urged to join World Economic Forum’s cyberwar

Harmonised approach to cybersecurity stretching across borders and businesses is essential if world is to fight back against a sudden spike in cyberattacks

There has been a surge in state-sponsored cyberattacks targeting users in NATO countries, with a 300% increase compared to 2020, according to Google data incorporated into an alert recently issued by the EU Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA). 

The alarming spike is a cause of concern as the geopolitical context becomes increasingly tense and volatile, with the world facing several major crises in what has been coined a 'polycrisis', report the WEF Centre for Cybersecurity’s Giulia Moschetta, Research and Analysis Specialist; Filipe Beato, Lead; and Akshay Joshi, Head of Industry and Partnerships.

Geopolitical tensions are escalating cyber risks, while cyberattacks exacerbate geopolitical dynamics. With the likelihood of a prolonged war in Ukraine and the possibility of a renewed Russian offensive, malicious cyber operations can be expected as part of a concerted hybrid warfare effort.

The dire global economic outlook coupled with rising inflation, supply chain disruption, energy shocks, extreme weather events, and geopolitical instability heightens the threat of potentially disruptive cyber operations. 

The energy sector has become a primary target of geopolitically motivated cyberattacks while also being indirectly affected by spill-over effects.

Cyber insecurity in top 10 global risks

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2023 identifies cybercrime and cyber insecurity as among the top 10 global risks in the next two to ten years. Against the backdrop of such scenarios, cybersecurity must become a priority.

“Cybersecurity cannot be only thought of in cost terms,” says Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information. “It also needs to be thought of in terms of business competitiveness.”

Achieving cyber resilience is one of the biggest cybersecurity challenges and is not a one-time or a one-actor effort, write the WEF authors. “Data suggests that a harmonised approach that stretches across borders and businesses is necessary. Private sector collaboration can foster cyber maturity across the industry.”

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